TABLE OF CONTENTS
Manuscript Collection No. 509
William Braude was born on 25 April 1907 in Telsiai, Lithuania, to Rabbi Isaac and Rachel (Halperin) Braude. The family immigrated to New York City in 1920 where Braude briefly attended yeshiva. A few months later the family moved again and Braude was educated in the public schools in Denver, Colorado and Dayton, Ohio.
Braude was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1931. He accepted a pulpit at Temple Beth El, in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was to remain until his retirement in 1974. He then became Rabbi Emeritus. Although Braude remained a Reform rabbi he challenged his congregation to increase their ties with their Conservative and Orthodox counterparts and Jewish tradition. On Yom Kippur services in 1965, Braude pulled out a yarmulke and announced he would wear it as part of his commitment to the Jewish people. He had a strong commitment to Jewish education and the study of Hebrew and Torah- and he would insist upon the time for his study over temple committee meetings. William Braude built the Beth El library to over 25,000 volumes and it has been renamed in his honor. He also developed the Hebrew school.
Braude wrote extensively on the Torah and commentaries. He received an M.A. from Brown University in 1934 and a Ph.D. in 1937. His dissertation was entitled Jewish Proselyting in the First Five Centuries of the Common Era . He served on the Brown faculty from 1937-1942 and was a guest lecturer at Leo Baeck College, Hebrew University and Yale University. Among Braude's major works was the 2 volume The Midrash on the Psalms, a Translation from the Hebrew and Aramaic (1959) and Pesikta Rabbati: Discourses for Feasts, Fasts and Special Sabbaths translated from the Hebrew (1968) published for the Yale University Judaica series. But Braude also wrote on issues that would draw the general public into Torah study and Jewish traditions. Typical of such publications are articles like "Detective Cohen Turns to Midrash" (1945) or the sermon "What I Learned in Alabama about Yarmulkes" (1965).
Braude was keenly interested in issues of social justice. While a challenger of the ardent Zionists who viewed Israel as the panacea to the Jewish suffering, he also questioned the anti-Zionists. Braude ran in the early 1930s as a reform candidate for the school board. He championed black rights long before the sixties, and marched in Selma, Alabama with Martin Luther King. Yet, he was not a proponent of all civil rights legislation and many of his congregants disagreed with his conservative political stances.
William Braude died on 25 February 1988 following a long illness. He married Pearl Finkelstein on 19 June 1938 and had three children: Joel Isaac, Benjamin Meir and Daniel.
The William G. Braude Papers contain the records of Braude's rabbinical and scholarly career. Braude served as rabbi at Temple Beth El in Providence, Rhode Island from 1932-1974. He had a great interest in promoting higher standards in Judaism- introducing a cantor, the study of Hebrew and the development of the Beth El library. The writings series contains Braude's drafts, notes and editorial correspondence relating to his two major multi-volume publications for the Yale Judaica series: A Translation of the Midrash on the Psalms and Pesitka Rabbi- An English Translation . There is also a file of other articles and sermons from Beth El arranged alphabetically by title and cover his career over several decades.
The correspondence series consists of Braude's correspondence with his fellow Hebrew Union College classmates and faculty. It gives a sense of a typical rabbi's schedule and conflicts between committee work and scholarly study. An extensive correspondence with Jacob Shankman, congregational rabbi at New Rochelle, New York details the typical life of a rabbi over several decades- from the pulpit to his personal life and involvement in the World Union for Progressive Judaism. The Norman Feldheim correspondence describes life as a chaplain in the Panama Canal in the 1930s and the I.M. Melamed file illustrates the experience of a fellow Lithuanian immigrant rabbi in Chicago, Illinois. The general correspondence file includes letters from Henry Englander, Julian Morgenstern, and Jacob Weinstein which are related to the activities of the college. Some correspondents are members of Braude's congregation such as Sidney Ballon who followed Braude to Hebrew Union College. Most of the letters are written to Braude. The bulk of the correspondence is from 1932 to 1940 although the span dates of the series are 1932-1987. The span dates for the entire collection is 1930-1987.
This collection is arranged in 2 series:
Terms of Access and Use
The William G. Braude Papers are open to all users. The original manuscript collection is available in the Barrows-Loebelson Reading Room of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.
Property and Literary Rights
William G. Braude, by the act of donating the William G. Braude Papers to the American Jewish Archives, assigned all property rights to the American Jewish Archives. Literary rights are retained by the William G. Braude heirs. Literary rights may also be retained by specific creators of materials.
Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives. For more information see the American Jewish Archives copyright information webpage.
Braude, William G. Nearprint Biographies File.
Braude, William G. Photograph Collection. PC-526.
Braude, Yizhak. Brief biography written by his son. SC-1348.
Temple Beth El (Providence, RI). "Temple Beth-El, 135 Years." Video Tape Recording No. 126.
Footnotes and bibliographic references should refer to the William G. Braude Papers and the American Jewish Archives. A suggestion for at least the first citation is as follows:
[Description], [Date], Box #, Folder #. MS-509. William G. Braude Papers. American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The William G. Braude Papers were donated to the American Jewish Archives by William Braude, Providence, Rhode Island in separate shipments in 1970; 1980 and 1987.
Processed by Dorothy Smith, February, 1997.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the AJA Online Catalog.
Hebrew Union College
Temple Beth El (Providence, R.I.)
Rabbis -- Rhode Island -- Providence